Zarif Tells CNN: Iran Refuses Negotiation with Trump Unless The US Shows ’Respect’
By Staff, CNN
In an exclusive interview for the CNN by Fredrik Pleitgen, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said his country reiterated that the Islamic Republic won't negotiate with US President Donald Trump unless the US shows Tehran "respect" by honoring its commitments under the disputed nuclear deal.
Zarif further warned the US was "playing a very, very dangerous game" by boosting its military presence in the region.
The Iranian diplomat also criticized the US for sending the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Gulf. "Having all these military assets in a small area is in of itself prone to accidents," Zarif said. "Extreme prudence is required and the United States is playing a very, very dangerous game."
He then accused Washington of walking out first on the nuclear deal signed with Iran, referred to as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action known as the [JCPOA.
"We acted in good faith," Zarif said of the deal, which was signed by the US, Iran, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia. "We are not willing to talk to people who have broken their promises."
Earlier this month, Trump said Iran should be "calling me up." But on Sunday he hardened his rhetoric. "If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran," Trump said in a tweet. "Never threaten the United States again!"
Iran would not bow to the threats, Zarif said. "Iran never negotiates with coercion. You cannot threaten any Iranian and expect them to engage. The way to do it is through respect, not through threats."
Zarif didn’t rule out “painful consequences if there is an escalation,” but noted further that Iran was "not interested in escalation." Instead, Zarif called for an immediate end to the "economic warfare" waged by the US on Iran, saying that sanctions were "depriving citizens of their means of livelihood."
"All we want to do is sell our oil," Zarif said, adding that the US was "just a bully preventing people from buying our oil."
He said US sanctions, which have hit the Iranian economy hard, "amounts to terrorism" on the country's citizens.
Iran announced it would be partially withdrawing from the deal on the one-year anniversary of the US's departure from the accord. It gave the remaining signatories of the deal until July 7 to ease restrictions on Iran's badly hit banking and oil sectors, or face unspecified retaliation.
Commenting on the issue, Zarif said Iran's announcement was not an ultimatum to the remaining signatories, insisting that it was acting within the rules of the agreement. Instead, he pointed the finger at the US for leaving the negotiating table in the first place.
Zarif noted that the Trump administration had also walked away from the Paris climate accords, the North America Free Trade Agreement [NAFTA], and United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization [UNESCO].
Meanwhile, Zarif's comments came after Iran announced it has quadrupled its rate of production of low-enriched uranium, according to Tasnim news agency which cited an official at the Natanz nuclear facility Monday.